Israel Steps up Gaza Airstrikes Following Murder of Israeli Teens

Israel Steps up Gaza Airstrikes Following Murder of Israeli Teens

TEL AVIV, Israel, July 1 (UPI) — Israel launched nighttime airstrikes on Gaza after Monday’s discovery of the bodies of three missing Israeli teens.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed retribution for their deaths, telling his cabinet, “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.”

During the overnight airstrikes, the Israeli military said it hit 34 terror infrastructure targets.

Hamas maintains it was not involved in the teens’ abduction. But, Hamas warned, if Netanyahu “brings a war on Gaza … the gates of hell will open to him.”

Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported Tuesday that an Islamist militant group known as Ansar as-Dawla al-Islamiya claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and murders, and threatened to “slaughter” the Palestinian Authority.

The bodies of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, were found in an open field north of the city of Hebron in the West Bank on Monday. They disappeared June 12 or June 13.

Israel has identified two Hamas members as suspects: Marwan Kawasma and Amer Abu Aysha. The overnight airstrikes destroyed their homes.

U.S. President Barack Obama called for restraint on Monday, urging “all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.”